When I started shopping for winter tires I did extensive research and based on testing from TireRack.com and Consumer Reports decided on the Michelin X-Ice XI3 tires. Unfortunately, that tire was completely sold out in my car's size (175/70/R14) when it was time to purchase the tires. I took a risk and purchased this tire, which is made by a very reputable manufacturer, but has basically no reviews anywhere online. I have the non-studded version of the tire.
I have had a few days now on the tire in the Calgary area, so I'm able to provide some comment on its performance on snow covered parking lots, freezing rain, slush, deep piled snow at the side of roads, and on dry roads. I'm a fairly conservative driver, and I'm not an expert on tires, but hopefully my comments can provide some insight to someone who might be unsure about purchasing a tire with no customer reviews.
Overall, I'd say that the grip on snow, ice, and slush has been excellent. I'm more than confident in the performance of the tire in bad conditions. On dry roads, I have no issues, but the tires give a very light feeling to the steering wheel which doesn't instill a lot of confidence in their absolute grip. This is more or less to be expected from a winter tire, and I'm much more concerned with the grip in poor conditions than in perfect conditions.
One thing that really surprised me is how comfortable the ride of this tire is. Compared to the all-season tires which were on my vehicle before, traveling over bumps in the road is significantly less noticeable. The tire is fairly quiet overall, but there is a noticeable hum between 30 and 70 km/h. On the highway the noise is not bad at all.
Given my experience so far, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this tire to a friend. Hopefully more objective testing will be available on this tire soon.